Monday, March 1, 2010

By Dawn's Early Light

Who wouldn't wake up early to catch a glimpse of this beauty on the ridgeline to the east?  Once I gear up to tend the goats, I'm "on the clock," and the work day begins.  Up until then, I'm on my time.  I hate to hit the ground running.  I like to ease into the day with coffee, writing in my journal, maybe some letters, and now, of course, these entries.  When I went out to snap this photo this morning, the wild turkeys were loudly claiming territory.  I've discovered that turkeys are natural conservationists.  A flock will gobble loudly while feeding, not to bring others to the feast, but to stake a claim so that an area is not overgrazed.  Bessie Anne is not as enthralled with dawn as I.  She drags herself out of bed whenever I get up, follows me from room to room, and promptly goes back to sleep whenever I light anywhere.  To each her own.

As long as I'm on the subject of fowl, there is a phenomenon that I dismissed as a (sub)urban legend when I first heard it, but I have found that it is absolute truth.  When a flock of chickens is without a male in residence, one of the hens will start to develop secondary sex characteristics...a bigger comb, larger wattles, longer tail feathers...everything that identifies a rooster except the spurs (and the "etc.").  This pseudo-rooster will take on the protective attributes of the male, establishing the pecking order, guarding from danger, and so on.  Twice it's happened, through chance or by design, that I've not had a rooster in my flock, and both times one of the girls has "flipped."  It's a little disconcerting the first time you see a "rooster" that lays eggs. 

My circadian rhythm is definitely set to the progress of the sun...daylight comes earlier now, and sundown is not until after six o'clock.  Not so long ago I was putting the girls in for the night at four-thirty.  I'm all for longer days.

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